Monday, October 28, 2013

Riddle-In and the Chemical Lobotomy: A Life and a Casualty of Psychotropic Drugs



This post is labeled with the following triggers: trauma related to medical procedure, suicide ideation, self harm. DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH ANY ONE OF THESE TRIGGER POINTS.


"The mechanism of action is unknown"

Tearing down the hallways in a crazed state of mind. Giddy with laughter brought on by nothing at all besides the possibility of success. I am going to do it this time! I am home alone and it is the best fortune to befall me. No one around so I can take my violin into the basement, which my mother and youngest brother share as a bedroom. The acoustics are MAGNIFICENT down there! Don't they see? Don't they know? They are LIVING in a GOLDMINE of rich emptiness just BEGGING WITH THE NEED TO BE FILLED WITH PURE SOUND.

I have come to life once more. I am eighteen years old and have not taken any ANY Adderall in three glorious weeks. I also haven't eaten a single scrap of food and have told my mother that I do not need to see Doc Rob until next week. I know full well I was supposed to see him two weeks ago. But I told my mother it wasn't until later. That I was doing really well with my weight and didn't need to see him for a whole month. Sure she saw the look in my eye and knew I wasn't exactly telling her the truth... 

(I am so emaciated that my boyfriend had to carry me to the nurse's office twice during school to spend the rest of the day there because of blackouts. But I am legally an adult so I got to choose for her not to call my mom. Another messed up victory brought on thanks to HIPPA!)  

...but she hates the 30 minute drive up and back down. I see cautious relief in her face.

No Ritalin, no Effexor or Klonopin or any of those drugs. No sleep either! Who needs to sleep?! I am terrified of the dark anyway, why the hell would I sleep in the dark? It is something to be feared, revered, respected...

...I start into a passage of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances since I royally screwed it up last spring at state competition so to prove I am not the world's worst violinist I HAVE TO FIX IT! I am screwing up the first several bars of the first movement. I suck! I am a terrible musician. One of my friend's fathers said so. That my intonation is horrible. He did not say horrible, he just said that it is a bit "off". And that is enough to prove that I am, indeed, the worst person to ever call myself a violinist...

...there are hospitals. The kind where you must endure rubber tubes down the nose and face a heart rate of 30. Hear the alarms. And not care at all. You are fed with calories and pills and go home completely fine only to do the same stupid crap over and over and then you are sobbing because nothing matters and nothing is ever going to be better and I burned about 20 short stories two years ago because they were plainly awful and I should never go near a pen or a keyboard ever again. So then I have to take the tiny white pill that makes me forget all about not wanting to fight a fight I will never win...


Then all of the sudden I am in my local emergency room. They found me in another apartment (was it mine?) with self inflicted injuries at the age of 21. I am bound by what they call "soft restraints" but HAHA I KNOW HOW TO ESCAPE THEM. I am able to escape anything and everything. I am Houdini reincarnated. I tug and tug and yank my left hand free which the nurse sees and they pin my tiny body to the bed and pull me back into my leash. There is a needle. I do not know what is in that vial but then I hear it is "Zyprexa, 20 miligrams". I almost giggle out loud. Zyprexa no longer works for me and hasn't since I was 14 years old. But I don't tell them this. And I really do not understand why I am even in this emergency room. I am not totally sure of what crime I have committed to be treated as though I am crazy...except that I stopped taking a new medication "cocktail": Thorazine, Abilify, Cogentin, and a whole bunch of drugs that have driven me past insanity. But how could the medication make me insane when it is supposed to be keeping the crazy away? I also remember, as the needle is plunged into my thigh, that I am not *supposed* to even take Zyprexa but I cannot remember why until I vaguely hear "OH MY GOD SHE'S CONVULSING!"

Oh yeah. That's why!

Then the world goes black.


The "Riddle-In" Early Childhood Drug Use: My Brother's Story

My brother Philip was born October 25, 1988. He came along far too early and just proved to us all that he had the patience of an underpaid FSD worker. With unfathomable brilliance he dreamed of being an architect and even drew out a blue print with startling insight for a child so young.

If you haven't figured this out by now I will tell you this: my brain never stops. All the time it spins and twirls and spins yarns upon yarns of a tapestry of words. I am dizzied by them...but Philip's brain was triggered by numbers, mathematcs before he was ever even in school. It took a few years for my "madness" to trigger but Philip was hyperactive and fearless since his first breath. And it never slowed down.

After extensive testing, after my throwing a fit because one of the tests required he be awake all night long so he got to play video games and I had to go to bed without him, my mother came home with a bottle of tiny green dots. They were supposed to stop Philip from being so "impulsive".

It was called Ritalin. And it's mechanism is unknown.

In layman's terms, a doctor believes that a certain medication will cease or eliminate a problem behavior but they really do not know why. In fact, as new science emerges, some medications used for such disorders like depression are nothing more than expensive placebos: they don't really do much of anything.

Except interrupt neuro pathways...and sometimes not for the better.

Philip was six years old when he started taking Ritalin. Ritalin is a stimulant medication thought to help treat behavior related to a disorder called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Looking back, Philip didn't have a single problem paying attention. Little kids who design blueprints of buildings at the age of four years old are actually very detail oriented. And he COULD sit still long enough to draw it up and figure out just HOW to build something so abstract.

But with a mind so restless, even more so than mine at the time, there wasn't a whole lot to be interested in.

His behavior did change, but it wasn't for the better. He was listless and unable to eat enough to hold a healthy weight. You could have offered him ANYTHING and he would very happily eat anything you gave him until he was full. And since Philip, age six, was taking legal speed, that amounted to about three mouth fulls. Then he would grow bored and we both headed back outside to play.

As we grew older he took to anything fast paced and new...and that wasn't schoolwork. He'd finish tests in minutes, acing them even though he did none of the ditto sheets assigned. When he was in the seventh grade his A average took a nose dive since he didn't want or even need to drill more information in. It was already there after one demonstration and let's be honest, if you know something well reading over and over about it is horridly boring! If you are taught WordPerfect then you do not need endless worksheets on formatting text and printing documents. You have it down and need to move to actually USING the program, not review after review on how to operate it. That's called wasting time.

Mom tried to get him into accelerated classes to no avail...his IQ testing was two points off the cutoff for qualifying and his weak spot was language skills. Then she tried to implement an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for him because ADHD is a learning disability. The school board saw it differently, however. His IQ was too high to qualify for an IEP for a learning disability according to the school board in Jefferson City, Missouri public schools.

By this time he was on Adderall and the stimulant no longer made him a zombie. Instead it triggered the hyperactivity even worse and his impulsive behavior became unmanageable. His brain was hardwired by uppers since young child hood from a medication whose mechanism of action in unknown.

He needed to calm down but there was no way to do so. And since he could not think straight, he showed a classmate what he had hidden in his mechanical pencil.

Marijuana, which was caught by the teacher.

After that, Philip was denied his speed that he was programmed  to need to function. It was discontinued by his pediatrician. Instead he was given a non stimulant medication that behaved more like an anti depressant. But Philip didn't take it because in didn't do what he was accustomed and afterwards turned to areas of town no child has any business in and started smoking and using illegal substances.

And then he grew insane about the same time as I did. But Philip did things that were illegal, deviant, dangerous. Stealing power tools and guns. Telling me about these encounters with that grin that I cannot forget, both of us giggling because we were so close and had gone our whole lives together. I begged him to stay safe when he started forgetting the things he was doing and he begged me to eat something...anything. When he started stealing my medications to "calm m"e I screamed at him that I was supposed to be taking them or else I would go crazy and end up in trouble with the doctor, and Philip would shout back that he could replace it and replace it with more and handed me a joint, which I crushed and tossed.

"Druggie", I uttered under my breath.

In the end...everything escalated.

In the end...Philip Nicolas Peterson died of an accidental drug overdose on January 5th, 2009. Philip was found dead in a hotel where he and his friends had been hanging out. I was told by his best friend that he was found with a relaxed smile on his face leaning back in a chair.

Finally, for once, able to rest.


The Chemical Lobotomy Not Otherwise Justified: My Foray With Psychotropics

My first cocktail started with a single blue pill, a tiny little white one, and another that melted in my mouth. Their names were Zoloft, Ativan, and Remeron. I was 14 years old in a medical hospital all by myself. I had starved myself to nothing left but a heart that barely beat. I was also handed a large plastic cup of Boost High Protein. Brown. The brown flavor was my least favorite. I was not allowed any water to take these pills with. I was supposed to swallow them with the Boost and then finish the cup. It said 12 ounces on the side and it was full. I knew exactly what was in 12 ounces of Boost and wanted zero to do with it. I chewed the Zoloft and the Ativan, then melted the Remeron under my tongue. I left the brown liquid in the cup, curled into a tidy little ball, and was dragged into the depths of chemical sleep.

And awoke with a chemical hang-over that gave way to hysterical crying. Something was very, very wrong and I didn't know what it was. I wanted my mom and I wanted to go home NOW. Doc Rob came in with several "residents" to talk to me. I did not betray my panic, I didn't betray anything except for a few nonchalant shrugs and a few mutters. A tray was set before me and my heart monitor sounded off horrible shrieks. I was visited through out by others in white coats, nurses, family and friends through out. I was non cooperative with the "meal plan" and the little pills.

I was not allowed to go home after my mom's insurance stopped coverage for the ten days. So I was taken to a children's psychiatric ward two hours northeast and for the very first time saw what crazy looks like.

And to my alarm I instantly recognized what it was like to be mentally ill.

No one there was any different than me. There were a few teens and I asked one of them what they "had" as if they were in the medical hospital where a very pale girl told me she had something called cystic fibrosis. At the age of fourteen, I didn't realize that cystic fibrosis wasn't curable and did not find out until much later that she had died on the unit.

All of the teens told me casually that they were "depressed". One said they were caught smoking pot and he was forced into this unit. I sympathized and said I didn't want to be there either and told them that they thought I was anorexic when really, I wasn't anorexic. I was just depressed and anxious and even had to take pills for it.

One cracked a smile and told me that Dr. C was very interested in kids with anorexia...especially the ones like me who didn't think that they were sick at all.

We were called to "lights out". And in the blackness I howled out of fear that I would never be allowed to leave.

The result of that stay wasn't a good one. I had Lego buildings chucked at me that left large bruises. I was threatened with a feeding tube that I was horrified of.

I could not rest...and that teen were correct. Dr. C spent a lot of time with me and put me on a lot of medicine. I didn't know what any of them were or why I was taking them. I did what I thought I had to do to get out.

I finally was released. My mom was given a stack of slips of paper to give to Walgreens. For my medicine to be filled. I knew my night time meds were called Zyprexa, Remeron, and Ativan. We didn't go to the pharmacy that night and that night I tossed and turned and my mind started to short out. I became restless as I stared at the clock.




I couldn't take it any longer and didn't know what the problem was.

Then the next night I was given the usual medication I was take at night and fell asleep, waking up in time to tool around with my violin and leave for school without eating anything for breakfast.

Soon I began to pace at night. I'm not totally for sure, but close to after being released a switch was flipped and my heart began to race. I tried doing a bit of exercise to try to make myself tired and instead was totally wired. The more I moved the more my mind began to almost  "twitch". It was very hard to describe.

I stopped sleeping completely and soon there was a renewed vigor. I took Zoloft and other medication for  the morning and then my usual night meds. I wasn't eating properly at that point but I was taking all of my medicine...even if my mom forgot.

After a month home I slashed my wrist in the school bathroom. I was alarmed by the consequence and even more so that I couldn't get the bleeding under control. I had on a long sleeved shirt and stuffed a bunch of toilet paper underneath, hoping that would take care of the problem.

It didn't. My friends screamed and my legs, I remember, refused to stand and my eyes refused to stay awake.

I was then taken aboard the sick cycle carousel...and remained on it for almost a decade.

In that time I experienced many different psychiatric medications and I was diagnosed with a large number of labels. I was exposed to many pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, and far too many to name. I raged or I started laughing for no reason at all and then would start screaming and crying as a burning sensation ran through my brain. Still a child I hadn't a clue how to handle this and my mother was terrified, not knowing what to do and not being given much guidance on how to best help me.

I made a very real and serious suicide attempt at the age of 15 which kept me home from school but nowhere near a doctor. My mom had tossed my "meds" and I was taken to see my therapist at the time. She asked if I had been taking the Prozac and I said I had just stopped taking everything a few days ago because I was starting to have strange sensations in my brain, horrible head aches, unable to sleep...

...and my mom was verbally run over by this therapist who said I had done this because I stopped taking the medication.

I sat stumped. I didn't remember feeling this internal itching which now I would describe as agitation before I ever started medicine. I was struck with panic and no way out. When I was sixteen I just dealt with not taking anything a told my mom I didn't want to see the doctor anymore...

So for two years I didn't.

Then at age 18 I lost touch with reality...and was made to start them again.

Remember the psychiatrist that suggested ECT in the last post? This same doctor put me on a truck load of medication. He said I was bipolar, and put me on lithium. I was afraid of it because I had to get my blood checked often because of it. He also put me on a high dose of Prozac and so many others that I cannot remember them all.

Another suicide attempt. Another. Another and another. I told no one. I tried to do all in my power to get rid of the eating disorder and the bipolar and one day I was told...

...they wouldn't go away...and that I had to take medication for the rest of my life.

Every time I took a pill and felt unnaturally exhausted or put into a chemical frenzy I felt my "self" fade. More and more. The med list grew and at one point there were more than 25 different psychotropic medications not including others I had to have because, as it turns out, Remeron and Zyprexa started causing me to have horrible seizures and induced the seizure disorder I have even today.

A medicine call Lamictal caused me to break out in a strange and painful rash. The reaction is called Steven-Johnson syndrome and, while rare, is potentially fatal.

Over and over I tried to kill myself in ways unmanageable. But I was told I was "unstable". That I was "mentally ill". That because of bipolar disorder I am prone to impulsive action. Lithium was prescribed by one doctor that claimed it was impossible to feel suicidal on I tried several times in six months to end my life, including the italicized introduction.

"Impulsive". Does that sound familiar? Sort of like Philip, a creative mind that spun and twisted and recognized patterns and found little solace in the times before the mind turned back and tried to end me with the same pills that were supposed to be helping me.

I was on Cymbalta...and stopped it. I KNEW it was making it hard to sleep and was creating unnatural energy I couldn't be rid of. The consequence for this was terrifying seizures. Awful graphic thoughts of harming myself...

And I didn't. I didn't hurt myself..I rode it out in silence.

Soon, for the first time in years I started to feel almost human.

After that debacle I asked my psychiatrist (she is also my current psychiatrist) out of the blue if we were treating a real disease or if we were trying to kill the essence of who I am.

She looked at me and there was a crestfallen look in her eye as she said softly:

"I really don't know".

Slowly over the course of a few months, we weaned off of most of the psychiatric medication. I began to experience the world as it had been long before I chewed up my first Zoloft.

Today, the only psychiatric medication I take is Valium. It isn't for "generalized panic disorder" (yes, that is a "real" DSM 5 diagnosis...). It is for dysautonomia and seizure control.

As of this post I have my brain and my mind back...but now...I am losing bodily function.

Because I once was labeled with almost all diagnoses in the book, and have been there and done that, I can say that if I had to choose whether I would rather lose my body or lose my mind, I would choose to keep my mind sound and live the way I do now, instead of living within the confines of madness all alone.


Long ago, psychiatry was born to "manage" crazy people. They corralled them in warehouses, bound them in chains, and performed HORRIFIC abuses on them. One treatment was to dunk them in pools of freezing water whilst being housed in a small box similar to a coffin. This proved ineffective and the mortality rate was almost 100%. Due to public outcry, this form of  "therapy" was discontinued.

By the way, this form of treatment was introduced in the late 1800's. All together not that long ago.

Many self proclaimed professionals stepped forth with their take on the issue. The mentally ill would be subject to being forced into seizure by insulin as the first form of shock therapy, having their skulls cracked and portions of the brain removed...

This is called a lobotomy.

But then a breakthrough! In the late 1950's there was a medication formulated to perform a "chemical lobotomy", without the need to perform any surgery at all.

It's name was "Thorazine".

Thorazine was once upon a time described as a "chemical lobotomy" not even all that long ago.

Thorazine is still prescribed today.

In fact...I once took Thorazine three times daily for almost two years.

It is now documented that anti-depressants can CAUSE suicidal thoughts in children, teens, and young adults.

I first tried to kill myself at the age of fifteen whilst on Prozac.

Cymbalta kills a large amount of people yearly from liver failure and can cause seizures to those who are prone.

Cymbalta was the first psychotropic medication I weaned myself off of, followed by the rest. To this day I am questioned as to why I do not take psychiatric medications even with a bipolar I diagnosis and severe PTSD and sensory issues.

This is why:

The mechanism of action is unknown.


1 comment:

  1. I take a low dose of klonopin and that is the only medication I will agree to. As a teenager once the anorexia was made public they tried to put me on meds and I refused or threw up whatever they tried to force on me. I remember when I attempted suicide one of the residents was standing in the corner of the room with a Victoria's Secret bag that was full of meds...ridiculous amounts Seroquel, Prozac, Ativan, ambien, and quite a few more meds that should never be mixed like that. These meds that were suppose to be helping me were allowing me to harm myself. There are times that I have no memory of because of that cocktail they had me on. There is a point where the medication can be too much in my opinion, and there needs to be a limit. They are suppose to "Do no harm". I agree with you on the last thing also, I would rather have a sound mind and a sick body like I have now than have no control over my mind.